Islamic State ‘finance emir for Mosul’ relocated to Turkey, US says

On Aug. 29, the Treasury Department announced that a senior Islamic State official, Salim Mustafa Muhammad al-Mansur, had been added to the US government’s list of specially designated global terrorists. The move was carried out in conjunction with the Iraqi government, which seeks “to bar Mansur from the Iraqi financial system and freeze any assets he may have subject to Iraq’s jurisdiction.”

Mansur was identified as the Islamic State’s “finance emir for Mosul,” Iraq earlier this year. But according to Treasury he is not located in Iraq, as he “moved to Turkey.” The US listed three locations inside Turkey — Mersin, Istanbul, and Adana — where he has been based.

The US did not explain how Mansur has been able to operate inside Turkey without being arrested by local authorities. But Treasury’s announcement makes it clear that American officials will continue to seek to disrupt the Islamic State’s “financial networks regardless of geographic location.”

That is, Mansur could not avoid be sanctioned as a terrorist simply by relocating to Turkey.

John E. Smith, the director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), emphasized this fact. “Treasury continues to work in close collaboration with the Government of Iraq to dismantle ISIS financial networks both inside and outside of ISIS-controlled territory,” Smith said. “This action underscores the United States’ resolve to work with international partners to further restrict ISIS’s ability to abuse the US and Iraqi financial systems.”

The US has previously identified Islamic State networks inside Turkey. In June, for instance, Treasury designated Fared Saal (a German-Algerian jihadi also known as Abu Luqmaan Al-Almani) as a terrorist. The US explained that Saal “recruited potential ISIS members and facilitated their travel to Syria by providing them with specific contacts to reach out to once they arrived at the airport in Istanbul.” The “contacts” Saal provided to the caliphate’s new believers “would then help facilitate the recruits’ onward travel to the Turkish/Syrian border.” [See FDD’s Long War Journal report: Islamic State facilitator moved recruits through Turkey, US says]

While the Islamic State’s facilitation networks inside Turkey have long been known and are sometimes disrupted by Turkish authorities, Mansur’s case raises a host of questions concerning how such a senior figure could operate in the country. It is possible that the American and Iraqi governments announced the sanctions placed on Mansur in order to pressure the Turkish government into taking action.

Treasury describes Mansur as a veteran financier. He was working for the Islamic State’s “predecessor,” al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), by “late 2009,” if not earlier. He served as “an AQI commander involved in fundraising activities to support terrorism in Iraq.”

Mansur was financing the Islamic State’s operations in Mosul months before it declared itself a caliphate. “In early 2014,” Treasury says, “Mansur was involved in moving hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dinars to ISIS in Mosul.”

In 2015, Mansur “laundered and transferred money on behalf of ISIS.” By the middle of 2016, “he was responsible for selling crude oil that ISIS extracted from oil fields in Iraq and Syria.”

But as the US makes clear, Mansur no longer operates in territory controlled by the self-declared caliphate. Instead, he moved to Turkey sometime before the fall of Mosul in July.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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6 Comments

  • Azad Khan says:

    Nice job by intelligence!
    If America invests in, beefs up and modernizes its intelligence services to counter anti American interests instead of maintaining expensive coldwar infrastructure in Middle East and Far East America will become great again faster.

  • Nato21 says:

    Follow the money. ISIS is all about the money. This guy probably knows where the ISIS money stashes around the world are. The caliphate has been crushed but eliminating them on the battlefield is not the end. Finding and seizing the money ISIS funneled out of Iraq and Syria would disrupt ISIS operations to regroup after being wiped out driven underground. Would be very interesting to see just who their business partners are.

  • Paul Cock says:

    Mansur did business with the son of Erdogan, this can explain why Mansur can live in Turkey, our Nato ally.

  • Boali says:

    “In early 2014,” Treasury says, “Mansur was involved in moving hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dinars to ISIS in Mosul.” 100,000 Iraqi Dinars is around 85 US$.

  • Jordon Wilton says:

    Interesting amount of energy to be spent on a small,regional player. Is this an attempt to vilify Erdogan after the failed coup couldn’t install Gulan as the the new and very complicit stooge?
    Sen. John McCain accompanied the delivery of pallets of US currency (20 M+) directly to the founders of Jabhat Al Nusra Brigades ( pictures of visit easily found online) along with millions of dollars worth of small arms. Jabhat Al Nusra Brigades have used chemical agents on civilians and beheaded Christian children. Why is McCain free?

    I have only recently stumbled upon this excellent site and, after reading several articles here and enjoying the insights of the comments here, I would welcome any input on the McCain issue – directly financing Terrorism and all.

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